Everyone’s favorite trotting man (except perhaps the Bantams, but that mirror has two faces) Clip Clop Kev is off to Melbourne this weekend, and while I would love to tell you that he is taking her indoors to the Creswick Woollen Mills to see the Llamas, the truth is that our man at the Creek’s much more romantic than that and has a very special treat in mind for the lady he loves.
Kev’s taking Kay to the trots!
Now that’ll be a surprise to Mrs Seymour and something totally new won’t it? I’m sure she won’t mind though because she and the handsome hubby are going on a date that most harness racing lovers could only dream about.
Well it’s a whole lot more than a date really. It’s a mission.
A mission to win the Victoria Derby with their star home bred colt, the imaginatively named Colt 31.
Colts 1-30 may not have been much good, but as the old saying goes if you don’t succeed at first try and try again and one might get lucky, and K and Kay have indeed.
How will they fare at the Melton fair you ask?
I dunno is the answer. I would know if Clip Clop would take my bloody advice and whack Dexter Dunn in the cart, but he reckons that Moses met God on a mountain and copped commandments, and that if the bloke can follow driving instructions from the Creator then he can follow them from the Clipper too.
The qualifying heats for the big one were held last Saturday night. Here’s my inexpert analysis of what went down.
It’s a real conundrum this one.
On paper it looked to be far and away the best of the three heats with the outstanding young Australian pacers Poster Boy and Colt Thirty One – owned by Queensland’s own Clip Clop – lining up against the alleged Purdon second stringer The Devils Own – who I actually suspect be the stable’s slow maturing but best 3YO – and the unbeaten emerging superstar from the Emma Stewart stable Konan.
Expectations were high, but in the end it turned out to be a fizzer, as qualifying heats of big races so often do.
A couple of lesser quality pacers flew out of the mobile at the start with Colt 31 and Moses had a quick look at the lead but wisely elected not to engage in a speed battle and eased the Colt From Old Clip Clop back behind them
The Colt then wobbled around the first turn – suggesting that a gear change in the form of a lugging pole, Murphy’s blinds or perhaps even a pair of Mick Pelling’s winkers might be a useful Bart Cummings style Derby addition to help it find a couple of extra lengths – and then when the two in front decided that discretion was the better part of valor Moses quickly whipped around 3-wide and crossed to a soft lead.
Moses put the brakes on once he got there and started to walk them, and before you could say Our Overanova Konan had come around and was sitting at the Colt’s wheel and walking alongside him, and until Moses hit the hammer on the Colt at about the quarter pole they spent the race strolling along leisurely like kids enjoying their last glimpse of the sun before being dragged into church by their Dad for the 10am service.
Unfortunately leading isn’t really the Colt’s favorite way to race and his lightly raced walking mate Konan liked death seating even less, and the star Victorian colt became a victim of his own inexperience by starting to pull, reef and hang and threw away his chances of early career classic success by continuing to do so throughout the entire race.
Blacks a Fakes trainer/driver Nat Rasmussen, the former wife and harness racing partner of Moses – lucky Trista can’t come to the course right now, cos we could have had an international incident on our hands – sat back in the 1-2 and smoked her pipe on The Devils Own, and Australia’s best reinsman Chris Alford steering Poster Boy sat directly on the Aussie expat’s back.
At about the 600m mark Rasmussen pulled out and went around the field and Alford followed behind her, and the pair sauntered around to challenge the leaders. Moses saw em coming and planted his foot flat at the top of the straight and for about 100m he looked home and hosed until Poster Boy hooked around the Kiwi and started motoring down the outside like the Toowoomba Tornado (Bernborough not Ben Currie) and nailed the Colt in the shadows of the post, with the Kiwi battling away into third after doing the hard yards carting the winner up.
The lead time and early sectionals were terribly slow before The Colt ramped it up and took them home to the judge in a low flying 26.6, but don’t be deceived like I was at first watch by the overall time. It ended up being a couple of seconds slower than the second and third heats, but the Derby Final will be run at a much faster clip than this race, and The Colt is a much better horse driven with a sit on a fast pace than he is carting the field around on his Sylvester Stallone up front.
Konan didn’t need a barbarian to slay him, he killed himself, and as a result won’t be appearing in the final, but I’m sure that he’ll be back to perform acts of barbarity on his opponents later on when he matures and learns to settle.
Purdon and Clip Clop superstars go through to the Derby final, and the Colt’s nemesis Poster Boy goes with them, and any of the three can win the big one with the right luck.
High class New Zealand colt Spankem from the all conquering Purdon/Rasmussen barn looked to have a mortgage on this, the weakest of the three heats, and so it proved.
The Kiwi strolled to the front early in a deceptively quick lead time of 41.2 seconds and never looked like getting beaten at any stage after its rivals allowed the 10’s on shot to stroll unpressured through its first half in a pedestrian 62 and a half seconds.
As you would of the back of such a slow first sectional Spankem sizzled home in 55.4 seconds under a relatively easy drive and cruised to the line to win by 3 metres from a clustered pack of fast finishing closers headed by Code Bailey, a Christian Cullen colt out of Taffeta Bromac that’s owned and bred by Ross Pike, the nephew of a somewhat famous gentleman from Temora named Colin Pike, who one a few races once with flashy looking handy horse named Paleface Adios.
The disappointment of the race was the second favorite Yankee Roller, who had won the South Australian Derby and the $50 000 Vic Bred Platinum Series at its previous two starts and was expected to qualify easily for the final by running second to the Kiwi, but thanks to a Gavin Lang brain explosion bombed out big time and will probably next be seen in a bargain basement claiming race at Boort.
The Emma Stewart trained pacer had a dream run throughout sitting on Spankem’s back but when the going got tough in the lane the Septic Tank turned weak. He couldn’t sprint at all when Spankem turned on the burners, and faded to finish a narrow fifth after Lang – thinking he had the horse a couple of lengths back that was coming down the outside covered – let him cruise under its own speed from the 50m mark to the finishing post, a terrible mistake which saw him pipped for fourth in the last stride of the race and resulted in the colt’s invitation to the big dance this Saturday night being cancelled.
Due to the farcical speed early it’s hard to get a real good handle on this heat, but apart from the winner I don’t rate of the qualifiers as classic material and suggest that you draw a line through each of them when making your assessment of the chances in the final.
As for Spankem?
Well there is no doubt this colt is brilliant when he gets it his own way in races, but his NZ form suggests that he finds it a bit of a struggle to step up to the mark in the big ones, so unless he draws between barriers 1-3 off the mobile barrier in the big one I suggest that he might find snatching this red hot Group 1 race beyond him, although Purdon always leaves a bit in the tank for the top races so we’ll just have to wait and see.
I won’t be backing him though.
The unbeaten all conquering Warnambool colt Lumineer – winner of the rich Group 1 Australian Pacing Gold Series as a 2YO – flew out from barrier 4 to lead on his on his ear, and after cruising through the first half mile in 61.5 seconds he burned home the last half in 55.5 under a tight grip to win on his ear.
The margin was only 3 metres in the end but it could have been a lot further, and the ‘Boolster’s mile rate of 1.56.0 was the fastest time of the three heats and his win looked the easiest as well.
The previously unbeaten Maraetai – named after a poor excuse for a beach in South Auckland that my kids used to paddle in when they were little – ran a bold race to finish second after circling the field from its back row draw to sit in the death for the last lap, and it will be a rough place chance in the final if it gets the right smother and a soft suck along into the race.
Third placegetter Tam Major sat on Lumineer’s back throughout and put in a great run, and while this horse seems to have a handy knack of finding the box seat in big races and punching above his weight it’s hard to see it doing again in what seems sure to be a high pressure final no matter where he draws or sits in the run.
My old mate Greg Sugars drive Little Peanut – has there ever been a better named pacer? – was slaughtered in the NSW Breeders Final by the hook job man – for once not on purpose – but on the evidence of the colt’s plodding run in the heat after he’d received all the favors by virtue of gun run in the 1-1 you’d have to surmise that he has gone backwards since his 2 year old days, and hasn’t got a snowflakes chance in hell of knocking off any of the Big Five in the final.
The Wrap Up
On the evidence of the heats you would have to say that Lumineer and Poster Boy look the top two in the big show, which makes for a fascinating clash because if the Warnambool wonder draws the front row he’ll be going like a bat out of hell off the gate and looking for the lead, whereas Poster Boy is almost certain to go back and swoop late with the same explosive burst of finishing speed that he thrilled us all bar Kev and Kay with in the first heat last week.
All’s not lost for Clip Clop though, not by a long shot, because the Colt goes best when it sits and sprints, and if Moses can find Poster Boy’s back when that horse goes three wide in the last lap and he can stalk him all the way into the straight and if Spankem and Lumineer have gone hard at each other up front the bloke who walked out of a stewards inquiry at Albion Park a couple of weeks ago and escaped with a light smack on the bum might just find himself in the role of the prodigal son returning home with a Victorian Derby trophy clutched in a paws.
It’d be a great way for Clip Clop to celebrate 50 years in harness racing wouldn’t it, and the big man was so excited about the prospect when we were chatting this morning that he promised to give the whole winning stake to the Kim Walters Foundation if the Colt can pull the dream off.
Well he was about to promise to anyway – I’m certain of it – but Kay called him to come and eat his bacon and eggs before it cold and so he had to go before he could actually put the pledge into words.
I’m sure he won’t mind me doing it for him though cos its only chump change of 125 grand or so, and its tax deductible anyway and with the Colt currently at the ridiculously over the odds price of $15 in the big one Clip Clip can recoup it on the punt no worries.
So good on ya Kev, it’s a bloody magnificent gesture and I take back all those nasty things I said about you being a tight arse who refuses to spring for breakfast. I’m sure the other Maroon Kevvie (Cumquat) will be over the moon when I ring him to tell him the good news in a second too.
Go the Colt! Do it for all of us!